Each November is recognized as American Diabetes Month® to bring awareness to the chronic disease that impacts nearly half of all American adults. Diabetes is an illness requiring lifelong management and Diabetes month sheds light on strength, courage, and determination of those suffering from Diabetes and also their caregivers. Over the past several decades, as more is learned about this chronic illness, treatments and management strategies have been developed through millions of hours of research and education.
Let’s examine a few of the recent breakthroughs in Diabetes research.
Repurposing Old Medications. Anyone that is suffering from or is familiar with Diabetes understands how important the A1c number is. Researchers have discovered the positive impact medications that were originally created for other conditions, have on A1c. One drug used to treat menstrual problems, Parkinson’s disease and infertility, Bromocriptine, has been approved by the FDA to be used in combination with other diabetes medications to better control blood sugar levels. Another established drug being used to treat high cholesterol, Colesevelam, is now prescribed as part of diabetic therapy to improve A1c results.
Artificial Pancreas. A research project at the University of Virginia has developed an algorithm, Diabetes Assistant Artificial Pancreas that monitors and manages control of blood glucose overnight and reduces incidents of hypoglycemia. The artificial pancreas works directly with an insulin pump to manage blood glucose levels and alleviates the necessity of the patient constantly checking it themselves.
Implantable Devices. Researchers at MIT have developed an implantable device that protects insulin-producing beta cells. The device is currently successfully working in mice and holds the promise of potentially curing type 1 diabetes. More than 3 million Americans suffer from type 1 diabetes where the immune system kills off insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas.
Stem Cell Research. The more we learn about stem cells, the more advancements there are in finding ways to use them. Researchers are currently working on using stem cells to at a minimum treat diabetes, but ultimately use them as a cure. Stem cells are different from other types of cells in that they can take on new roles and functions. One way researchers are using stem cells is by seeing if they can make insulin that can intelligently respond to changing blood sugar levels.
The fight to find a cure for Diabetes has never been more important. All of the data about the prevalence of the disease are trending in the wrong direction. In addition to the more than 30 million Americans with diabetes and the 84 million with prediabetes, another 1.5 million are diagnosed every year. Diabetes is the 7th leading cause of death in the United States with more than 330,000 deaths naming diabetes as the main cause or contributing factor. Everyone is encouraged to follow Diabetes Month activities using the social media hashtag #DearDiabetes or #ThisIsDiabetes.
We would love to hear from you! Share your Diabetes story in the comment section below. Tell us how this chronic illness has impacted you or a loved one. You can also drop us a line on our Facebook page.